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Political Philosophy

Two Principles of Justice and Entitlement Theory

Rawls’ Principles of Justice

A practical theory of justice ought to clarify why clear prejudices are unfair and assist in resolving existing disagreements. John Rawls is considered to be a contemporary philosopher who explored approaches based on justice. The theories were not only focused on assisting people in coping with ethical predicaments but addressing the overall concept that considers the role of the justice in a liberal democracy. Copying from some conceptions of social contract theory, Rawls envisages a society in which the ideologies are based on the social contract. Nonetheless, Rawls identifies challenges with the social contract that does not permit justice and equivalence to occur amongst members of society. In this case, those taking part in the negotiation have no clue of their race, gender, and education to guarantee fairness in the social contract. Ultimately, Rawls argues that the critical concern of justice is fairness. Within this paradigm, Rawls identifies two principles of justice.

The first principle states that every individual ought to have uniform rights to the utmost general fundamental liberty compatible with parallel freedom for other individuals. Rawls goes further by authorizing each individual to get engaged in activities, on condition that the rights of others are not infringed upon. In the second principle, social and economic disparities are to be fixed. This is to guarantee that they are both realisticallyprojected to every individual’sbenefit and committed to positions and offices open to everyone.  Similarly, every individual ought to share in the society’s wealth as well as every individual obtaining benefits from wealth distribution. According to Rawls (2009), Rawls does not provide an argument that each person ought to get the same remuneration. However, each person is entitled to receiving benefits from a decent income and gain access to jobs that are well paying.

The principles are primarily applicable to the society’s structure and governing the delegation of rights and regulation of the social and economic distribution of the advantages. According to Rawls (2009), it is therefore vital to abide by the principles to guarantee the neutralization of the disadvantages and that each individual acquires similar benefits of justice. Also, ethics in an individual is addressed even though it is not the main principle of his theory. It is, however, an overall statement of how individuals ought to behave.

Part B

Nozick’s revelation of genuine state power, thus contrasts markedly with Rawls’s theory.  Rawls argues that the government ought to have powers that are necessary to ensure that every citizen that is well off, is well off as they can be. However the power ought to be consistent with numerous basic rights and liberties. In this instance, this standpoint is derived from the ideology of justice by Rawls. One of the principles entails that unequal wealth distribution and income are only acceptable if those at the bottom are well-off as compared to how they may be in any distribution. Nozick’s reply to such opinions is to state that they are based on a fabricated notion of distributive justice.

This means that they wrongly described a fair distribution in terms of the pattern it exhibits at a specific duration. For instance, an equal distribution or unequal distribution in a specific context or based on historical circumstances that surround its development. In this case, those that put in more effort deserve more.This is in contrast to other aspects regarding the nature of the transaction through which the distribution is conducted. According to Nozick(2004), any distribution of “assets,” as he terms them, regardless of the level of disparity, is fair if it happens from an appropriate circulation through legitimate means. One genuine means is the assumption of any item that is unowned in situations where the procurementmay be a disadvantage to others. A second mode is the intentionaltransmission of possession of holdings to another individual. A third mode is the refinement of historicalprejudices in the gaining or handover of assets. Any individual that has acquired any holding through the three is ethically entitled to them.

Therefore, the entitlement philosophy of justice indicates that the dissemination of holdings in society is justified if every individual in the community is entitled to what they own. Nozick highlights that his visualization of the nominal state is comprehensive and is like-minded with the being of lesser societies founded on changingphilosophies of justice. Any group that desired to develop a communist society overseen by ademocraticphilosophyis free to do so. This is with the understanding that it did not compel other individuals to join the community forcefully. Certainly, each group will enjoy similarliberty to understand its concept of a better society. In this manner, the nominal state establishes an “agenda for utopia.”

Part C

In order to illustrate that the philosophies of justice are founded on patterns are false, Nozick came up with a simple and ingenious opposition known as Wilt Chamberlain’s argument. Assume, he states, that the distribution of holdings in a particular society is fair in regards to a theory based on historical circumstances. For instance, in the egalitarian theory, which states that only a strict distribution of holdings is just. In this case, Chamberlain is considered to be an excellent basketball player with numerous teams after the players’ signature. Chamberlain agrees to be part of a team on the condition that every individual that attends a game remits 25cents at the entrance.

During the season, approximately one million fans attend the game and Chamberlain is granted $250,000.  However, the perceived just distribution is upset, since he receives $250,000 more as compared to other players.  The sharp perception that it may not be undeserved is accounted for by the entitlement theory. This is because Chamberlain legitimately acquired his assets. According to Nozick, his arguments are generalized to any ideology found on patterns (61). This is because any form of distribution that is dictated by such an ideology may violate individual’s rights to own property. For instance, the one that involves Chamberlain. In addition, he states that any society that aims at implementing such an ideology may have grossly intruded on the citizens’ liberty.




Nozick, R. (2004). 6 The Entitlement Theory of Justice. Contemporary Political Theory: A Reader, 61.

Rawls, J. (2009). A theory of justice. Harvard university press.


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